BY PAULA MINAERT — If you’ve traveled down Rhode Island Avenue lately, you’ve probably noticed that the much-loved Rhode Island Reds is now the Shortcake Bakery & Café.
Many people mourned the closing of Reds on June 30. But fans of the pizza served by Reds owner Christopher Brophy will be happy to know it will stay on the menu. So will “his awesome apple Amaretto thingies,” according to café owner Cheryl Harrington. Brophy is helping her with the transition.
The café, she said, will open sometime in October with a different look. While Reds was “beautifully decorated, ” she plans to change the color scheme to better reflect her Caribbean heritage.
All the baked goods will be made from scratch and some of them will be organic. The café will have international breads and specialty cakes and she hopes to have a “bread of the day.”
If her name sounds familiar, that might be because of her husband, David Harrington, who is the former mayor of Bladensburg and was appointed to fill Gwendolyn Britt’s seat on the Maryland State Senate. She herself worked as County Councilmember Peter Shapiro’s legislative aide for five years and also worked briefly with Councilmember Will Campos.
But, she said, baking was always her passion. She grew up working in her family’s bakeries in Massachusetts and. often returned to it as a hobby.
“After I left the county council, I worked as a lobbyist [for Upper Marlboro-based G.S. Proctor & Associates, Inc.] and often found that at the end of the day, I’d come home at 8 or 9 and couldn’t sleep. So I’d turn on ’70s music and bring out flour and sugar and butter and bake, and it would calm me down. In a way, it’s a natural switch.”
Stuart Eisenberg, who owns the building where the café is located, said, “I’ve sampled her work and she’s a good baker. It will add a new dimension to the retail in Hyattsville. I’m looking forward to it.”
Harrington is applying for a transfer of the Class B wine and beer license from Reds and the request is on the November 22 agenda of the board of license commissioners. She said it’s more common than people think for bakeries to have licenses because they often serve dessert wines.
The café will open at 6 a.m. and close at 6 p.m. It will serve breakfast and some lunch items but not dinner, although Harrington is hoping people will stop by on their way home from work to pick up that bread of the day.
“I’d like to build up the more traditional bakery items, like breads, first,” she said. “There’s a void in this area for good bakeries. The Retail Bakers of America determined it takes 3,000 families to support one bakery. Here in Hyattsville, Brentwood, Cheverly, I believe we have more than 3,000 families. But we don’t have a bakery.”